In a show of force, BAYAN USA and allies launched the largest protest mobilizations to date across 14 cities in the United States in response to Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA). While Duterte rambled on for almost three hours, approximately 1,500 Filipinos and allies in the U.S. joined their voices with the tens of thousands who mobilized in Manila to deliver a people’s state of the nation address. To solidify the widespread unity forged across organizations and individuals around the country, BAYAN USA and Malaya Movement also used the weekend of protest actions to officially launch the Duterte Wakasan Na Movement – U.S. to end the Duterte regime by any means, whether through ouster or defeat in the 2022 elections.
Empty Talk, Empty Stomachs
The Philippines continues to experience one of the longest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world, with cases still on the rise and only about five percent of the country’s population vaccinated. This has exacerbated an already dire economic crisis, with unemployment figures now reaching almost 4 million. And while some are returning to work, it is overwhelmingly to informal, irregular, and low-paying jobs.
“Despite massive hunger across the country, Duterte had little to say—let alone concrete plans—to address the health and economic situation,” critiqued Rhonda Ramiro, Chairperson of BAYAN USA. “Rather than ensuring mass contact tracing, free testing, and more widespread and efficient rollouts of vaccines, Duterte’s only plan was to ‘pray for salvation’,” she continued. In his speech, Duterte threatened to return to “what happened in the early days” if the situation worsens, referring to the hyper-militarized response to the pandemic that deployed military personnel rather than health workers across the country.
Philippines for Sale
When it came to Philippine sovereignty, Duterte was also full of nothing but hot air, claiming that “gone are the days when the Philippines decides and acts in the shadows of the great powers.” “How then does Duterte explain his deference to China over the West Philippinne Sea, or the potential $2.9 billion arms purchase from the United States?” pushed Ramiro. “If anything, Duterte has only danced between the shadows of the U.S. and China his whole term, going to whichever would rake in the most profit and give him more political cover at any given time.”
While Duterte’s pandemic, economic relief, and foreign policy plans remained lacking, his message to people demanding livelihood, health, and human rights rang loud and clear: you will be killed. Aside from praising the bloodthirsty National Task Force to End Local Communinst Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)—whose red-tagging of activists as communist terrorists has had deadly consequences—Duterte again ordered the nation to “shoot them [supposed communists] dead.” A few hours before the SONA, two activists—Jemar Palero (22) and Marlon Naperi (38)—were actually shot dead by the police simply for painting political graffiti on the side of a bridge.
“Aside from the pandemic, the Duterte regime itself remains the deadliest virus in the Philippines,” asserted Ramiro. “Duterte’s shoot to kill orders against activists and the poor through his so-called ‘war on drugs’ and counterinsurgency programs have left more people dead than COVID-19: over 30,000 murdered, in addition to the 27,000 who passed from the disease,” continued Ramiro. “To make matters even worse, Duterte had the audacity to call for free legal assistance for military and police personnel to fight charges filed against them.”
Standing Up to Repression in the U.S.
In response to mounting protests overseas against the economic and political crisis in the Philippines, the Duterte regime has been busy organizing its own counterinsurgency efforts against activists on U.S. shores. On the day of SONA protest actions in New York City, an organization calling itself FACT (Filipino-Americans Against Crime and Terrorism) spread malicious propaganda red-tagging community organizations as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. In online posts promoting FACT’s work, members spreading these lies revealed that the effort was done in coordination with the Philippine Consulate General in New York. Activists also witnessed similar dirty tricks in Washington, D.C.
“There is no limit to how low the Duterte regime will stoop to smear community organizations who are simply speaking truth to power, and empowering their communities to do the same,” stated Ramiro. “Why is government money being channeled toward helping organize such deadly disinformation campaigns when there are hundreds of thousands of migrant and immigrant Filipinos in the U.S. who are in need of immediate aid and assistance for themselves and family members back home?” Under former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, similar overseas counterinsurgency campaigns led to the assassination of activists like Filipino-American labor leaders Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes.
End the Regime and Build the Alternative!
The Filipino people cannot afford another year of Duterte’s reign of terror, let alone another six years should his schemes to stay in power after the 2022 elections succeed. BAYAN USA stands firmly with the broad ranks of the newly launched Duterte Wakasan Na Movement – U.S., which unites to end the Duterte regime, whether through his resignation, impeachment, ouster, or the defeat of his political heir in the 2022 election.
But beyond ending his regime, BAYAN USA will continue to agitate, organize, and mobilize the masses tirelessly until the roots of fascist tyranny are no more. “While the Duterte regime is certainly the most brutal, it is certainly not an isolated case in Philippine history,” explained Ramiro. “As long as the Philippines continues to be dominated by foreign imperialists and the local comprador bourgeoisie and big landlords, there will be no end to the Dutertes, Arroyos, Marcoses, and any other ruling class dynasty in our homeland. We will continue to fight for genuine independence and democracy in the Philippines, and build the socialist alternative that the masses deserve.”
Duterte Wakasan Na!
Oust Duterte Now!
Wakasan ang imperyalismo, pyudalismo, at burukratang kapitalismo!
Struggle for national democracy with a socialist perspective!